Dress Rehearsals For The Real Thing


I just read Crazy For the Storm, a memoir by Norman Ollestad.  Wow.  When the author was 11 years old, the plane carrying him, his father, and two others crashed in the California mountains on the way to a ski area, where young Norman was to collect his ski race trophy.  Ultimately, Norman was the only survivor, and he used the skills his father taught him on the slopes and in the surf to make it out alive.  Caught in a steep couloir, the 11 year old boy used his fingernails and the toes of his tennis shoes to slowly lower himself down the treacherous slope.  This memoir reinforces for me the transformative power of skiing.  If you’ve ever stood at the top of a steep slope and wondered if you would be able to hold your edges or turn through the deep snow, then you know what I’m talking about.  When you put yourself out there, whether on the slopes or in the surf or in a tiny kayak in the middle of the Grand Canyon, you connect with something bigger.  That connection becomes a well upon which you can draw later, when you really need it.  When faced with life’s real challenges–the ones we do not sign up for–you tell yourself that you’ve been through dangers before, that you skied that gnarly couloir, or surfed that big wave, or ran that scary rapid.  Sure, when we go out into the adventurous world, we do so voluntarily.  But, I believe, they are dress rehearsals for the real challenges–the ones that come screaming up to us when we aren’t looking.  For Norman, that happened when his plane crashed into the side of a steep mountain.  For me, it happened when my husband was diagnosed with bile duct cancer.  What about you?  What challenges have you signed up for that, when faced with the real thing, you were able to draw upon, learning to get through the real tough stuff because you’d been through the rehearsals?

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